Ranking the Free-Agent Wide Receiver Options for the Minnesota Vikings

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2013

With Percy Harvin getting fitted out for a teal green uniform (or is it sea foam?) after his trade to the Seattle Seahawks (via Jay Glazer, Fox Sports), the Vikings are in even more dire straits in terms of wide receivers.

Greet your current crop of wide receivers folks: Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Stephen Burton (and a guy on the practice squad, Chris Summers).

As much as you might be happy with that murderer's row, it seems as though the Vikings are even more desperate for receiver help than before.

Fortunately with two first-round picks, they are sure to grab at least one receiver. I wouldn't preclude the idea of picking up two or packaging both to move up and grab whomever they feel is the best receiver in the draft.

However, there is still a very good chance they will make a play for wide-receiver help in free agency as well.


Victor Cruz, RFA

This would be expensive, but that's what the second first-round pick would be for.

Cruz is tendered at a first-round grade, and is making just under $3 million this year. I'm sure he'd be perfectly willing to stay with the Giants and try his luck next year, but the Vikings have more than enough cap room to go after him and spend a first-round pick doing so (the penalty for the tag).

Why do this? Well think of it this way. Would you rather spend a pick on a rookie wide receiver, a position which historically struggles the first year or two, or would you rather spend it on a guy who has been one of the better receivers in the league the last two years?

You want a guy to develop or a guy ready to go straight out of the box?

Cruz may not be as good with Christian Ponder throwing as he was with Eli Manning, but his ability on deep routes and make tough catches is something the Vikings are desperate for.

Sign him immediately to a hefty long-term contract, make him welcome and happy and you'll have a weapon for a long time. You'll also still be able to pick up a good receiver in the first two rounds of the draft.

There are other RFAs the team can look at, but really, Cruz is the only one worth making a move for?

Two 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown seasons in a row make him a very attractive possibility.


Mike Wallace, UFA

Wallace is another receiver they've been linked to, and it's not hard to see why.

He had two very productive seasons in 2010 and 2011, though he did slip to a sub-1,000-yard season last year and missed a game due to a hip injury.

The problems with Wallace are two-fold. First, it's expected he will ask for a ton of money—a price rumors say the Miami Dolphins are willing to meet (The Palm Beach Post).

So if the Fins are already handing Wallace a ton of cash (and let's be honest—that report is to be taken with a grain of salt as they all are) it's going to be expensive to sign him.

The second problem could be personality.

Wallace admitted he lost focus last year and it's easy to think he was a little out of sorts post-holdout when Antonio Brown got the contract he wanted.

Trading Harvin allowed the Vikings to shed a troublesome player who was unhappy.

Do they really want to sign another?


Greg Jennings, UFA

I like Jennings, but have two big questions about him which drives him down to third on this list.

First, can he succeed without Aaron Rodgers? Long is the list of players who looked great, parlayed that into another big contract elsewhere and promptly had their production fall off a cliff.

And never is that dynamic more possible when you have a good receiver leaving the production of one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

How many successful receivers ditch something like that and succeed? It happens—Vincent Jackson, most recently.

I'm not 100 percent sold on Jennings' ability to do it though. I suppose it comes down to whether you believe he's a Vincent Jackson/Terrell Owens/Randy Moss type or not.

Assuming you believe Jennings will be just as good with Christian Ponder as he was with Aaron Rodgers, the other question is how much longer he has left. Sure, 30 isn't disastrous for a receiver, but in the last few seasons Jennings has had a bevy of injuries which has forced him to miss time.

It seems as though for Jennings, age might be weighing on him heavier than some other players.

By the time Ponder is fully developed, where will Jennings be?


Wes Welker, UFA

All of the above which worries me about Jennings also applies to Welker.

Will he succeed without Brady or the Patriots' offense? He did have over 1,000 yards with none other than soon-to-be-jobless Matt Cassel, so there's that.

On the other hand, that was in 2008 when he was 27.

He's going to be 32 at the start of the season, and if you're concerned Jennings might be on the downside of his career, Welker should worry you as well.

That said, he has been a tremendous receiver for the Patriots and is really dangerous across the middle. That's a soft spot for the Packers and potentially for the Bears without Brian Urlacher. The Lions also fall into that category since they appear to be losing a lot of their front seven.

Still, for a team building on youth, how much money do you lock up into a contract for a 32-year-old player? And if you decide to offer a shorter contract, can you sign him?


Danny Amendola, UFA

The 27-year-old receiver is a bit of a mystery. On the one hand, he's never had a 1,000-yard season and has battled serious injuries the last two years.

On the other hand, he has shown flashes of real talent and is an exceptional kick returner.

He could also come fairly cheap as well, and the Vikings could protect themselves against further injury by not throwing a ton of money at him.

They'd be wise not to. He's not getting much bigger at 5'10" 186 lbs, and it could be those injuries will continue to pile up as he takes a beating from much bigger players over the next few years.


Of course, there are other receivers out there. Could Randy Moss make a return? Would another Rams receiver, Steve Smith, rebound in a purple jersey? Do they re-sign Jerome Simpson? He would be cheap after all. 

How would you rank the above receivers, and would you include any of the last three or someone else?

Let me know down in the comments and thanks for reading.

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